Once you think you know what’s going to happen, checked the waiver wire, and reflected on the season thus far, it’s time to think about making your fantasy team better. Andrew Jordan works through how to do that with a strategy for trades.
Last week we focused on who we should talk to when it comes to fantasy trades. This week we tackle specific players and look at things from every angle. There are big names not living up to their average draft position (ADP), while a rather unexpected career revival can still be had for much less than he is worth. Depending on roster construction and draft results within your league, virtually any player is tradeable if the return is worth it, so a buy / sell approach is not taken here. This works for teams looking to deal and acquire alike. Dig in, look ahead at schedules, and extrapolate from different names mentioned here to shore up your depth or front load your starters for a championship run.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans – If you were looking to get Miller at a bargain, your window closed last week with his two touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts. Currently second in rushing attempts (125) behind only Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott, the most appealing asset Miller has is the volume he receives leading the Texans ground game. In a fantasy landscape that is seeing fewer and fewer true lead RBs, Miller is a cut above. With offensive tackle Duane Brown recently back from injury, Miller is rushing behind an improved line as well. To acquire Miller without destroying your lineup you need resources to make a move. A high end RB2 in the Terrance West / Jordan Howard area with a tweener WR1/2 like Brandon Marshall might convince an owner that needs depth for their flex spot. Miller owners should use this as the starting point for negotiations. If you have Miller, but are rolling out Tavon Austin as your flex player, an all-around upgrade could help your team in the long run. Additionally, this advice applies to Odell Beckham Jr. owners and interested parties. Both players had great starts that happened to not include touchdowns for the first few weeks of the season. Now that they are finding paydirt, owners, for the most part, are regaining their confidence.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos – Right now Thomas is tied as the #15 WR in fantasy (PPR scoring) and has produced 90+ receiving yards in three games. This is incredible considering how the Broncos passing attack has looked thus far. In that same vein it is also understandable that he has been held to less than 50 yards in his other three contests this season. His involvement in the passing game, however underwhelming it is as a whole, keeps Thomas valuable. He is most likely the WR2 on teams that would prefer him much more as their flex option. If the team that has Thomas is in need of a RB2 or a TE, throwing out a Jonathan Stewart (low upside RB2) with a Coby Fleener / Jason Witten (solid but unspectacular) or an Allen Hurns / Jeremy Maclin (consistent but not a difference maker) could get a more nervous owner to give up the former 22nd-overall pick. As a Thomas owner myself in Inside The Pylon’s 16-team redraft league I consider myself just a hair under being cautiously optimistic. Admittedly, my feelings get a little worse when I look at his Week 15 opponent (Patriots) and the all important Week 16 (Chiefs). Thomas has the talent and savvy to win any matchup, but the state of the passing game in Denver just does not inspire week-to-week confidence. I am willing to move him soon, but would not do it for anything less than a high upside WR and mid-level RB2.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears – Double digit PPR totals in five out of seven weeks does not sound like a player you could buy low on but here we are. Jeffery is still the same ridiculous talent he has always been, but a complete lack of TD production and less than optimal QBs has owners viewing him more as a WR3 with upside rather than a WR2 with WR1 potential. As of Week 6, Jeffery is tied as the 25th WR in fantasy. Add one TD and he is tied for 21st, add another and he goes to 15th. We can also look for median scores to help make the argument for Jeffery, who is averaging 12.7 (now 11.7) points per game with a median of 13 (now 12) points. This median is a better mark compared to the players around him, including Doug Baldwin (15.2 avg., 9 median) Tyrell Williams (12.2 avg., 10.5 median) and Travis Benjamin (12.8 avg., 10 median). Once again, all of this production is from yardage only. Jeffery will see his price drop even further after securing only three of eleven targets for 33 yards Thursday night against the Packers. With the Vikings and a bye week on the horizon, owners could be in a selling mood after the Vikings do what they have been doing to top tier WRs. Selling Jeffery just does not sound like a good move right now. The breakout is coming but if waiting two weeks puts you in a position to miss the playoffs, make sure you are selling him at an appropriate value. Think of it this way, if you would not sell Benjamin or Jarvis Landry for what you are being offered, do not deal Jeffery for it.
Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars and Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks – These two players are grouped together due to the large percentage of their points that are coming from TD percentage and how each one is affected by it. Robinson is doing perfectly fine for himself when it comes to how much of his total is coming from touchdowns. In his breakout 2015 season, Robinson scored 304 PPR points with 84 of those points coming from TD catches for a tidy 27%. This year he has been consistent, getting 25% of his 2016 points in the end zone. What has really fallen off is his yardage totals, Robinson is only on pace for 77 receptions and 918 yards, nearly 500 off from his 1,400 yards in 2015. Robinson still carries name recognition so he can still net you WR2 +RB3 value if you find the right trade partner. If Robinson is holding steady to who he is as a player, then Michael is not just distancing himself from the beginning of his career, he is putting himself in the pantheon of fantasy RBs. Michael is currently getting 34% of his fantasy points from end zone visits. To put that in context, last year the #1 RB Devonta Freeman netted 26% through scoring, DeAngelo Williams (RB #6) had 28% and Latavius Murray (RB #10) had 17% of his total from TDs. Looking back, Adrian Peterson in 2009 when he had 18 total/rushing TDs, got 33% of his fantasy points from them but still did not finish as the RB1. That year the top honor went to Chris Johnson in the official CJ2K season where his 16 combined TDs accounted for 24% of his total score. I fully believe that fantasy football should be fun and if you want to wager that Michael keeps on pace for 16 total TDs this season, more power to you. But to keep Michael on pace means we are keeping others as well and that keeps Michael as a low end RB1/high end RB2. If I could turn Michael and a bench player for a top 3-5 WR or a top 14 WR plus a serviceable RB2 I am doing that in a heartbeat
Terrance West, RB, Ravens – We just talked about how name recognition could help you get more for Allen Robinson. The pendulum swings the opposite way for West, the Ravens workhorse RB. A guy who in three seasons ended up on three teams is not normally somebody who you would envision as a fantasy asset. However, West is the clear lead in the Ravens backfield and a valuable player to have in fantasy. Recently fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman lost his job in part because he was not getting the ball enough to the clearly effective West. Baltimore will go back to using the run to set up the deep ball and the passing game as a whole. West is the only back on the roster the Ravens are currently able to do that with. With double-digit totals the past three weeks, West will face the Jets defense this week looking to bounce back from their rough Monday night display, where they gave up 171 yards on the ground to RB David Johnson and the Cardinals. West can show he is the real deal by continuing to play well against the Jets, an impressive feat considering OL Marshal Yanda is set to miss at least this game. Outside of more savvy leagues, West just will not cost what a mid to high RB2 should cost an owner. Owners can shoot for a blockbuster deal by using a big name player like Demaryius Thomas and a bench player for West and a flex option. Another possibility would be using a high upside player like Willie Snead along with a high-end RB3 for West. Think about how bad injuries have been this season and filling a void at the RB2 spot with West is something every needy fantasy team should be exploring.